Scholarship placements for agricultural emissions scientists doubles

  • Hon Damien O’Connor

Scholarships for 57 early-career agricultural emissions scientists from 20 developing countries is another example of New Zealand’s international leadership in primary sector sustainability, says Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.

Mr O’Connor, announcing the scholarships today, says hundreds of applications were received for this fourth round of the CLIFF-GRADS programme (Climate, Food and Farming Global Research Alliance Development Scholarships) and nearly twice as many scholarships awarded as in the previous round.

“The growing interest from GRA member countries and host research institutions is impressive, and shows the high regard for this programme among the global climate science community.

“Supporting these international study programmes is one of many ways New Zealand is contributing to addressing agricultural emissions. Doing so will provide us with key knowledge to help farmers in New Zealand and in other countries to farm more sustainably,” he says.

New Zealand provides core funding for CLIFF-GRADS as part of its ongoing support of the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases (GRA).

CLIFF-GRADS scholarship recipients often face a number of constraints to conducting their research in their home countries. This round includes two placements at New Zealand’s Massey University.

“This and other GRA programmes are actively boosting scientific capability in regions where that expertise is limited, by giving them access to technical expertise and equipment they would not otherwise have. These Alumni will go on to have a global impact on agricultural emissions management and contribute to addressing climate issues,” says Mr O’Connor.

“Their research and the connections formed will aid the transition to lower emissions primary production in developing countries, as well as in New Zealand, and we are proud to be providing leadership and support to those efforts. I see this also as an investment in our own sustainable future – the best farmers for the world.

“As part of Budget 2020, I have made a renewed commitment of $34 million over the next four years to continue support of the GRA and its objective to grow more food without growing greenhouse gas emissions.

“I’d to acknowledge the support of our GRA members and partner organisations for providing exciting opportunities for these students,” says Mr O’Connor.

Additional information

  • The 57 students, from 20 developing countries, will be hosted at 34 internationally renowned research institutions in 23 host countries, for six months. Their research topics include rumen microbiology, rice production, soil emissions, and pasture management, among others.
    CLIFF-GRADS scholarship recipients and their research
    Comments from past CLIFF-GRADS Alumni
  • Massey University will host two of the latest scholarship recipients, one from Argentina and one from Cameroon, both completing doctorates related to nitrous oxide emission management. They will take part in a project assessing nitrous oxide emissions and nitrate leaching in pasture soils modified with the addition of woodchips.
  • Round 4 scholarship stays will occur between August 2020 and December 2021. The initial stages are online-based.
  • Students visiting New Zealand will be subject to COVID-19 border restrictions and usual visa requirements, to be arranged between them and their host institution. New candidates in the CLIFF-GRADS programme and their hosts are encouraged to commence any research online and remotely as practicable (this is irrespective of COVID-19).
  • CLIFF-GRADS is one of a suite of capability building programmes funded by New Zealand in support of the GRA objectives. New Zealand has funded more than 165 scholarships for research on agricultural emission management, across a range of programmes in support of the GRA. Other programmes include:
    • LEARN, an awards scheme supporting technical staff and scientists from developing countries to work alongside New Zealand colleagues to share knowledge on livestock greenhouse gas emissions measurement, modelling and mitigation practices to increase the level of scientific skills and technological capabilities internationally.
    • NZ-GRADS, a PhD scholarship available to students from developing countries to study at a New Zealand research institute.
    • RUFORUM, a new collaborative platform of African Universities which provides scholarships to Masters students interested in studying greenhouse gases from agriculture.
  • New Zealand is a founding member of the GRA, now comprising 62 member countries from all regions of the world.
  • CLIFF-GRADS is a joint initiative between the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases (GRA) – in which New Zealand has a leading role – and the Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS)  programme of the Consultative Group on International Agriculture Research (CGIAR).